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Musical Nature


Do you play an instrument? Have you ever made one? Terje Isungset can answer yes to both questions. He’s a drummer. And he makes instruments out of something pretty cool. Ice!

Terje Isungset plays at the Ice Music Festival Norway. Brr!


It’s not just any ice. “You can buy perfect ice from factories around the world. But it will not have any sound,” Isungset told TIME for Kids. He gets all of his ice from nature. “It’s nature that decides the sound of the instrument,” he says.

Isungset got the idea for ice music more than 20 years ago. “I was asked to do a concert in a frozen waterfall,” he says. This gave him the idea to play instruments that were actually made out of ice.

Instruments are made of ice from local lakes. A saw helps.


As far as he could tell, this hadn’t been done before. “There were no books to read about it—nothing on the Internet,” he says. “So I had to create everything by myself.” In 2006, Isungset helped start the Ice Music Festival Norway, in Europe. It is held in February.

Here, Isungset is in Greenland. This instrument was made from a glacier.


Creating a Concert

Almost everything at the Ice Music Festival is frozen. “As you can imagine, there are a lot of logistics logistics ELYSE LEWIN—GETTY IMAGES the details that go into making something happen (noun) Students worked out the logistics for putting on the school play. involved in doing an ice concert,” Isungset says. “We come to a place, we harvest the ice, and we build the venue venue ALISTAIR BERG—GETTY IMAGES a place where something happens (noun) A park is the perfect venue for a picnic. out of snow and ice.”

Musicians will play inside this concert space. It’s made of ice and snow.


Instruments include ice chimes and horns (see “Play It Cool”). Others are made-up. “For the festival, I have a goal of trying to invent a new instrument every year,” Isungset says.

What happens when the show is over? “We give everything back to nature.”

At the end of the festival, the audience helps give the ice instruments back to nature.


Play It Cool


Pretend it’s very cold. Picture yourself playing an ice horn. Would your lips stick to it? “Many people ask that question,” Isungset says. “If the horn was made out of metal, they would get stuck completely.” His solution? Use a small piece of leather. Place it on the horn’s mouthpiece. “It’s the only part of my instrument that is not made of ice.”